Does the Flamingo feed the blood to the infant? No, it’s the crop milk!


Here I am thinking the flamingo stabbed the other in the head so the baby would drink its blood like a vampire flamingo

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Two flamingoes with a baby are shown in the 23-second viral video. Here, we can see that one flamingo appears to be biting the other’s head as a red liquid similar to blood flows across its beak and into the mouth of the infant. This post is shared with a claim stating, “I am thinking the flamingo stabbed the other in the head so the baby would drink its blood like a vampire flamingo”.

One similar claim post can be seen here.

What’s the truth?

We started our analysis with relevant keywords on Google, leading us to some articles. According to an article from the San Diego Zoo, a flamingo chick is about the size of a tennis ball and has grey down feathers when it first hatches. It also has swollen pink legs and a straight, pink bill that turns black in about a week.
The chick spends five to twelve days on the nest mound after hatching. The chick is fed crop milk, a sort of “milk” that originates in the upper digestive tract of the parents, during this period. (Pigeons, doves, and some penguins have the same characteristics as fluorescent orchids.) In this way, flamingos of both sexes can feed the chick, and they can even take on the role of foster parents.

The article also went on to add that their plumage turns a pale pink or white as the parents deplete their color by feeding their chicks crop milk! Eventually, when the chicks learn to feed themselves and become independent, the parents regain this color.

This information about the flamingo’s color was nicely explained by the BBC in their YouTube video captioned “How baby flamingos get their pink color | Animal Super Parents.” As per the video, “These Caribbean flamingos are the brightest members of the flamingo family. They’re unusual in many ways. Their curved bill is a specialist bit of equipment containing a unique structure that filters algae and small crustaceans out of the water. This bill is the key to their parenting strategy. Their chicks are born with straight spells that can’t yet filter water to feed. So these bird parents produce milk that comes out of their mouths but has the same amount of protein and fat as milk. The hormone prolactin stimulates milk production the same as for humans except here, both parents have prolactin so dad produces milk, too. The mark is bright red as it contains the chemicals that give the chicken color until it can feed itself. The feeding drains the parents of their color and they start to look a bit washed out a feeling most parents are familiar with. With both parents working together they managed to produce enough milk to sustain their chicken till its bill has developed and it’s able to stand on its own two feet.”

We found another article from Popular Science titled “Why Flamingo Milk is Pink?” that provides a brief overview of the science behind the color while we continued our search.

Additionally, Parveen Kaswan, an Indian Forest Services officer, shared the viral video in 2020 stating that parent flamingos produce crop milk in their digestive tracts & regurgitate it to feed young ones.

All of this information makes it clear that the viral claim about the flamingo feeding blood is false and misleading.


Therefore, we conclude that the crop milk the parents are feeding their chicks at this time is actually what their upper digestive tracts are producing. The profusion of carotenoids, an organic pigment found in nature and their diet, gives flamingo milk its vibrant red color.

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Indu Meenakshi

Indu Meenakshi is a former Microbiologist-turned-journalist, works as a Sub-Editor at YouTurn. She additionally holds Master’s in Management and English Literature. As a fact-checker, her job entails actively dispelling false information found online, exposing fake news, and raising public awareness.
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